“Code 2, be advised, we have a missing child. Do you copy, Ken?”
Flying out of his office, Park Superintendant Ken Fields seized the mic to the main dispatch radio, “10-4 Chuck, meet me at Headquarters.”
Nearly 300 school age children had arrived in busloads that day for their yearly pilgrimage to learn about the California Gold Rush.
Hastily thrusting open the screen door to the Headquarters, Ranger Chuck Medford wasted no time. “The boy’s name is Cody. He’s seven years old, about four feet tall and weighs approximately 50 pounds. He’s fair complexioned with blue eyes, and black hair. He was last seen wearing jean shorts and a green t-shirt. The mother has been notified and is on her way up from the Bay Area, ETA is approximately ninety minutes.”
Superintendant Fields responded briskly, “Were you able to find out if the mother has any reason to believe that the boy would intentionally run away?”
“Yes, according to the bus driver who spoke with the mother, her son and his step father don't get along well.”
“We can’t afford to take any chances, alert the CHP for a possible abduction, and notify State Search and Rescue. If the boy is hiding within the park, we need to find him before nightfall."
Turning to the Office Manager and her assistant, Ken commanded, “Grab a radio and lock up the office ladies; I want all available staff involved with this search.”
Karyn, the Office Manager spoke up, “Let’s start by going to the sawmill exhibit Ali.”
“Karyn, I’ve prayed and asked God to show me where Cody is and I’m being led to check out the irrigation ditch up the hill behind the meadow.”
“Oh, Ali, haven’t you been listening? The Rangers have scoured the entire ditch several times already. We don’t have time for this, but whatever, I’m heading over toward the sawmill.”
Ali’s heart dropped as Karyn stomped away. She knew she was being perceived as a fanatical dimwit for claiming her gift of discernment; however, the important issue now was finding Cody.
Reaching the thick berry bushes that thwarted human intrusion at the foot of the hill; Ali hesitated and inhaled deeply to overcome her anxiety. Lord, you’re going to have to give me the courage to get past my fears of all the creepy bugs, snakes and even Mountain Lions that might be up here.
Arriving at the empty three-foot deep irrigation ditch, Ali cautiously climbed down inside and paused as she felt God leading her to begin talking to Cody as if he were in fact, up there and listening to her.
“Cody, I know you’re up here because I asked God to show me where you were.” Just then, a Search and Rescue helicopter flew overhead obliterating any chance of Cody hearing her. When it had left the vicinity, Ali continued. “Your mom is on her way up here.
I know you’re scared because of all the police officers looking for you but nobody is angry with you. We just want you to be safe. It’s going to be dark soon and get very cold. There are Mountain Lions too Cody and you would be helpless against one attacking you.”
Silence…and then the crackling sound of dead twigs caused Ali to crane her neck to peek around the next turn of the ditch. God, please let that be Cody and not a Mountain Lion. The crackling stopped and there stood Cody, hanging his head toward the ground, refusing to make eye contact with her.
Not wanting to startle Cody, Ali told herself not to move hastily and frighten him, but her own motherly instincts consumed her rational thinking and she bolted to Cody throwing her arms around him.
“Oh thank God, you’re all right!”
Releasing Cody from her indulgent hug, she asked, “Have you been up here the entire time?”
“How did you keep the Rangers from finding you?”
“I hid under the bushes and just didn’t move.”
Amused, Ali smiled. “I need to call the Rangers with my radio to let them know you’re all right. Is that okay with you?”
Grasping Cody’s hand, the two of them carefully made their way down the hill to the meadow where the entire search party, including Cody’ mom had assembled to await their arrival.
Overwhelmed with heartbreaking passion, Cody’s mom rushed to her son. Squeezing him tightly within her arms, she kissed every available inch of his head and face.
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